Skipping back to childhood, I remember going out to surf instead of in for homework, the ocean waves beckoning us into a rolling somersaulting thrill, the innumerable shell fragments holding the shore’s warmth. From the beach to grassy suburbs my life cycled, a sunlit time, flickering laughter-scented days, carefree, clouds appearing, hovering by, casting welcomed shade, their once-off rain bringing new growth.
Growing up, the next door neighbor boys became like brothers, and we spent entire days wheeling bikes, making bases, hose soaking each other on the lawn, digging out our imagination in G.I. Joe sand box bases, and laying on the carpet to play Super Mario Bros. We even took a hammer to the backyard fence, removing rusty nails, making a gap from two old wooden fence pales, to join our homes, our kingdom-worlds, a narrow way through was made, a gap to pass and freely roam. One friend, barefoot, was pierced by the nails laid freshly bare; he cried out, then soon found that he was held in his father’s arms.
In moments like those, in strings of average days, past birthday after birthday, we are invited to grow young, let You develop a childlike maturity within—a softening of heart, a restful lightweight soul, leaping from stress, refusing hardness or bitterness by embracing Your forgive-full-ness.
Why is that way so narrow, so thin?
No room to force laden carts or burdened mules. Forget storage barns, treasure chests and bank accounts, and find the gate is just a narrow two-paled fence entrance, with a few rusted nails thrust through.
In those child-moments with friends, I was safe. But I dwelt unaware of other kids also running barefoot, not by choice, without lawn or carpet, let alone bikes or video games. I did not know that some little ones could not find nourishment, were seldom at play. I could not conceive that kids, families would have to run not from bees and dogs, but from guns and men. I can still see the image burned into my mind of three children, huddled together, sitting on a highway median, trucks and cars tearing past as they shared a bit of food.
It seems unfair—but is it actually the essence of justice?—that Jesus is closer to those barefoot kids with fewer bundles, showing them that they always fit into his kingdom with less, with nothing, and they gain everything. It seems the poor and the weak, not the rich or strong, have this unaccounted advantage. We often carry too much; care too much about the things we carry to freely pass through, into life, and eternity with you.
Could eternity hold more childhood than adulthood?
Less things, less concerns, more people and moments. Soft spring breeze living, delicious richness of life, brotherhood, sisterhood, working with hands in young soil, swimming in cascading pools that glitter and glow. I long for endless timeless days, when all children freely play.
A narrow way, open to all. A piercing-nail wooden-pale way, with brothers and neighbors, with lightweight packs that pass through the kingdom-world fence gap, parcels filled with hope, humility and love.